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Thursday, 15 January 2009

gallows humour - 63%

Seems Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has a grave sense of humour as his forces have attempted to make the headquarters of the UN refugee agency into a cemetery. (Israel hits U.N. Refugee Agency in Gaza, The Guardian, 15 January, 2009). You can find the same story all over the web. (*Please note, as of the 16th the Guardian has changed the title to Hamas interior minister reported dead in Gaza attack, Barak is now saying that his forces were fired at (disputed by the UN), and there is no mention of it being "a grave mistake". However, references to such an expression can be found at this Australian ABC article and in this BBC article. )

The headquarters of the UN refugee agency was on fire today as Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza City, unleashing the heaviest shelling of densely packed neighbourhoods since their military operation began nearly three weeks ago.

The compound was bombed twice, and is a well-known location in Gaza which was marked with blue UN flags

A UN warehouse containing tonnes of relief supplies was burning fiercely after the compound was hit by what a UN spokesman, Chris Gunness, said appeared to be three white phosphorous shells. Three people were reported injured, one UN staff member and two of the estimated 700 local people who had taken shelter inside from the violence.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, angrily demanded an investigation. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, told him it was a grave mistake and he [Barak] took it very seriously. He assured [Kim] that extra attention will be paid to UN facilities and staff and this will not be repeated.

Be wary UN facilities and staff, and people sheltering in your buildings, of that kind of extra attention. And maybe Barak should be apologising to the people of Gaza for the poor eyesight of the members of his forces, rather than to Moon who seems to be happy with Barak's explanation, despite the demand for an inquiry.

Now loss of life was minimal (but still occurred), but how are those relief supplies going to get replaced, and where are they going to be stored? It beggars belief how cynical and arrogant this government is. But maybe that is the same of all governments around the world once they gain too much power.

And that is not all. Remember the IDF has the GPS of all of these civilian buildings. From the same news article:

Separately, the AFP news agency quoted witnesses as saying that a wing of the Al-Quds hospital in south-west Gaza, where hundreds more people had taken shelter early today from advancing Israeli tanks, was on fire after being struck. It was not clear if there were any injuries.

That is the same hospital that is referred to in this aid worker's blog.

and if that was not quite enough:

Reuters reported that a missile or shell had struck the Gaza tower block where the news agency and other media organisations have offices. The 13th floor of the Al-Shurouq Tower, which houses Abu Dhabi television, appeared to have been hit, injuring one of its journalists.
Reuters said it had provided Israeli forces with the co-ordinates of its office at the start of the war and had been repeatedly assured it was not a target.

What they say is true. IDF really are a killing machine. I guess Hamas was hiding in all of these places, and they were wired to the teeth with explosives. Or that is the explanation that we will get. Then retracted, then spun about some more, until Israel comes out looking all shiny and clean. You gotta have friends in the White House, hmm, and Canada, Australia, and the European Union.

From the very end of the article:

It is thought Hamas's conditions for any deal would probably include an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces the moment a ceasefire begins. That may prove too much for Israel to accept. Hamas also wants an Israeli commitment to lift the blockade on crossings into Israel and to open the Rafah crossing into Egypt. It wants the ceasefire to be limited to six months or a year.

Is it really so much to ask? Lifting the blockade (which means people can trade, eat, and get sources and resources) has always been a point of any ceasefire brokered, and Israel has never kept its side of the bargain (Ceasefire between Gaza and Israel has not eased conditions in Gaza[the ceasefire] has not delivered on Israeli assurances to ease entry and exit of goods and people, UN News Centre, 24 October, 2008). In addition, considering that Israel broke the ceasefire and then invaded Gaza, is the last request really so abhorrent? But then, it is apparent that Israel has no intention of implementing a ceasefire until it is well and ready, no matter what Hamas might say.

From Australia's ABC :

The Palestinian death toll from the air-and-ground offensive has risen to at least 1,055, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.
A Palestinian rights group said 670 of the dead were civilians.

That is civilian deaths are 63 percent of all deaths.

Thirteen Israelis have been killed - 10 soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire.

By the way, considering the conventions broken and the brazen war crimes committed by Israeli forces in that above ABC article, its heading (Israeli army shells Gaza, ceasefire talk gathers steam, 15 January, 2009) is shameful, really. ABC is a an Australian government run tv station. I'm coming to expect nothing less from them, the majority of our media, and our government.

I wish I didn't have to keep writing these entries.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr